Extreme heat

Governor of Santiago de Chile, Appoints South America’s First Chief Heat Officer

Appointment of Cristina Huidobro as CHO marks fourth continent to dedicate government resources to reducing the risks of extreme heat in partnership with the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.

Thu, Mar 3, 2022

SANTIAGO, CHILE — March 3, 2022— Today, the Governor of the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile, Claudio Orrego, appointed Cristina Huidobro to the role of Chief Heat Officer (CHO) in partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) and the Resilient Cities Network.

The first to hold the CHO position on the South American continent, Ms. Huidobro joins a global coalition of city leaders and experts committed to tackling the growing threat of extreme urban heat for vulnerable people. The appointment also marks Santiago’s initiation into City Champions for Heat Action (CCHA), a cornerstone initiative led by Arsht-Rock.

“Extreme heat kills more people than all other climate hazards combined. It also poses several challenges for people’s every-day lives. For example, high temperatures and decreased rainfall have reduced our Metropolitan Region’s water reserves. We need to take serious action to address heat. The collaboration with the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center and my appointment of South America’s first Chief Heat Officer, are concrete steps in that direction,” said Governor Claudio Orrego.

Santiago is the fourth city to name a CHO as part of the City Champions for Heat Action initiative, closely following founding members in Miami-Dade County, U.S.; Athens, Greece; and Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ms. Huidobro is the head of the Resilient Urban Projects Unit of the Regional Government, and a member of Resilient Cities Network’s Global Steering Committee. She currently oversees the implementation of the Resilience Strategy for the Santiago Metropolitan Region focusing on climate change, risk reduction and water resources management. With the additional focus on heat, she will also work to understand the risks and impacts of heat to the region and implement long and short-term actions to protect Santiago’s residents from extreme heat events. 

I am honored to be named the Metropolitan Region of Santiago’s – and South America’s – first Chief Heat Officer and excited to take on the mounting responsibility of raising awareness and taking action to protect vulnerable people from the dangerous effects of rising temperatures. I look forward to working closely with the Arsht-Rock to accelerate impact – and this global movement to take on extreme heat.”

Cristina Huidobro

“I am honored to be named the Metropolitan Region of Santiago’s – and South America’s – first Chief Heat Officer and excited to take on the mounting responsibility of raising awareness and taking action to protect vulnerable people from the dangerous effects of rising temperatures. Heat is strongly linked to our water scarcity challenges and the health of our community,” said Cristina Huidobro. “I look forward to working closely with the Arsht-Rock Resilience Center to accelerate impact – and this global movement to take on extreme heat”

Santiago is the second most impacted region in Chile from extreme heat waves, following the Atacama Desert. The percentage of extremely hot days in Santiago during the summer is expected to double by mid-century compared to what it was just a few decades ago, and the average temperature in South America could increase by over 6 Celsius by the end of the century.

“The appointment of Cristina Huidobro as Greater Santiago’s Chief Heat Officer marks another milestone in the growing and urgent global effort to protect the lives and livelihoods of people disproportionately experiencing the deadly effects of extreme heat,” said Kathy Baughman McLeod, SVP & Director of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council. “Our hope is that the work of Governor Orrego, Ms. Huidobro, and her fellow CHOs will inspire urban leaders across South America to understand the health and economic threats of heat and act swiftly to implement life-saving interventions.”

“The latest IPCC report on the current severity of climate impacts released this week shows us that every day counts as we quickly act to bring solutions to adapt – especially to the growing impacts of extreme heat, climate’s most lethal effect,” said Gonzalo Muñoz, UN High-Level Climate Champion for COP25. Appointing a Chief Heat Officer in Santiago, my hometown, is one of those solutions, and reflects the innovative climate leadership of Governor Orrego.”

Read the press release in Spanish here.

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